Tony Gartside, 40, did not have the slightest idea that the most difficult moments of his life was not when it was discovered that his kidneys began to fail when he was 32 or that he had to wait for 4 years until a kidney became available.
Tony Gartside, 40, did not have the slightest idea that the most difficult moments of his life was not when it was discovered that his kidneys began to fail when he was 32 years or that he had to wait for 4 years until a kidney became available.
The real difficult moments came after he got a call at 3am that a Kidney and pancreas had become available. He was then rushed from his home in Plymouth, Devon, United Kingdom to Oxford for the operation.
But when he arrived he was told that the organs had come from the victim of a drugs overdose - and it would be two weeks before they knew if the organs were HIV free. So it was either he chose to live with his dying kidney, or risk becoming infected with HIV.
‘They showed me into a room and told me the donor organs had come from a death by drug overdose and asked if I still wanted to go ahead.
‘Because the person died by drug overdose they wouldn't know whether the donor had HIV for two weeks. It was a scary process having to say yes or no after sitting in the back of an ambulance for hours,’ he said.
Gartside, who was born with type 1 Diabetes, spoke out about of his dilemma as part activities to mark the World Kidney Day.
According to him, he eventually decided to take the risk and then underwent a 10-hour operation, and received 32 staples in his stomach.
After the surgery he was sick for days, unable to even stand up straight, and was concerned about the risk of HIV.
But two weeks later the test results came back and the donor organ was HIV-free; and Tony made full recovery.
He has since set up a support group for transplant patients, called the Mayflower Support Group, which supports patients going through the transplant procedure.